Stone Signs for One Year, Connor Hellebuyck, plus more…
It's not $9 million, but it's still quite a short-term haul. The Senators and Mark Stone have agreed to a one-year contract worth $7.35 million. There's the obvious jump in pay for salary cap league owners from the $3.5 million he made, but the one-year contract has a more interesting layer to it: Stone, Matt Duchene, and Erik Karlsson are all on the final year of their contracts. So if the Sens continue their downward spiral, all three could top the list as potential trade deadline targets, or as a result UFAs if they are not either dealt or re-signed. This is huge because these are the Sens' top three players (up-and-coming prospects like Brady Tkachuk notwithstanding).
Whether he stays in Ottawa long-term isn't the only fantasy-related issue with Stone going forward. In spite of finishing with 1.07 PTS/GP in 2017-18 (14th among players with at least 50 GP), Stone has averaged just 64 games played over each of the last two seasons. Band-Aid Boy trainee material, maybe? So sure, you can project a point-per-game pace for him again, but you'll also need to deduct some games played from him again. But with this being (another) contract year and perhaps showcasing himself for other teams if the Sens continue to be a mess on and off the ice, Stone should be highly motivated to have a big year.
Another thing to consider about Stone in multicat leagues: He has never taken more than 160 shots in a season. This is from a combination of factors including the aforementioned injuries the past two seasons, as well as the gift of being able to consistently shoot at between 15-17 percent. Imagine what kind of fantasy monster he could be if he increased his shot totals!
Immediately after I wrote about Stone (of course), Cody Ceci was awarded a one-year contract worth $4.3 million from arbitration. So you can add him to that list above. A couple years ago I thought Ceci would make his way into the realm of 40-point defensemen, but his career has since taken a different turn since the Senators decided to use him more as a defensive defenseman.
The Flames made it official, buying out Troy Brouwer's contract on Friday after he cleared waivers. If you're interested in any Flames' forward prospects could make the opening-night roster as a result of Brouwer being bought out, you'll see a few names listed in this posting from Flames Nation. I don't think there are any obvious names, but July 1 signing Austin Czarnik was thought to be someone who had an excellent shot to make the Flames' opening night roster. His chances only improve now. Czarnik has scored at a point-per-game pace in the AHL over the past three seasons, but could not crack the Bruins' deep roster.
Just a reminder to not forget about 2016 first-round pick Dante Fabbro, who has assured the Predators that he will play for them one day, just not this season. The Preds are deep on defense and will be for a while, so this is one prospect that you’ll have to wait on some more if you already have been. Fabbro will be back with Boston University this coming season, having recently been named co-captain.
As a cyclist in my spare time, I can say this would be an amazing ride. Even better, it’s for a great cause. Craig Cunningham’s brother Ryan will be riding his bike from Castlegar, BC, to Tuscon, AZ to raise heart awareness. For more on the cause, Craig’s story, and how to contribute, see the story in the Vancouver Province.
A while back, I had been evaluating goalies identified in the Goalies to Watch article in last season’s fantasy guide. I still had one goalie to cover, so I’m going to take care of that unfinished business now. This goalie is the third success story – one that had such a successful season that he has flown all the way to the top of Dobber’s Top 100 Keeper Goalies. That goalie is Connor Hellebuyck.
Although I didn’t draft Hellebuyck in any of my leagues, I take special pride in recommending him. I can specifically remember reading comments about his inclusion on the list along the lines of, “Hellebuyck was terrible last season” and “Doesn’t the author know that the Jets signed Steve Mason to be the starter?” Um, yeah, I knew when I wrote that. I was trying to buck the trend and help you target the post-hype sleeper. I knew that Hellebuyck had been pumped up to that point and was now being largely ignored. But I’m sure you can figure out which goalie was a Vezina Trophy finalist and which goalie is now looking for a job.
The Jets took the patient route with their team, and everything finally came together in 2017-18. It looked like it was going to be more of the same after the first two games, where Mason allowed a combined 11 goals. Then Hellebuyck took the ball and never looked back. It was at the time a wise move for the Jets to sign Mason, as they didn’t want to throw their young goalie into the hot seat after years of misery.
Should Hellebuyck be the first goalie chosen in single-season drafts? I would think that he would at least be in the top 3 given his performance last season. I will say that given the turnover from the top 5 goalies now versus the top 5 goalies at this time last season, a skater is probably going to be a safer pick than a goalie.
Top 10 keeper league goalies – June 2018
1 Connor Hellebuyck
2 Frederik Andersen
3 Tuukka Rask
4 Braden Holtby
5 Andrei Vasilevskiy
Top 10 keeper league goalies – June 2017
1 Braden Holtby
2 Matt Murray
3 Carey Price
4 Cam Talbot
5 Devan Dubnyk
Interesting how the only name that remained in the top 5 is Holtby, and he wouldn’t have even made it there had it not been for the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run. Murray has fallen to 10th, while Price has fallen all the way to 14th.
These two goalies, along with Talbot and Holtby, failed to even come close to their preseason rankings as top-tier goalies. Those were the first four goalies off the draft boards in many leagues last season! Of those four, the best save percentage was from Talbot (.908 SV%), while the best goals-against average was from Murray (2.92 GAA). Those aren’t numbers that will win you your fantasy league, but they could have played a major part in you not winning your league.
So yeah, investing a first-round or even a second-round pick in a goalie is risky business. Something you will know all too well if you drafted Holtby, Murray, Price, or Talbot in 2017-18. I’d much rather draft scorers and hope like crazy that I don’t get dragged into a goaltending run early.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.